tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 12, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
values to what we're all about as a nation. and this week, the senate stepped up, united as we seldom do these days, to talk about the veterans of that war and our other wars and the obligation we have to our veterans. i think te bill that the senate passed yesterday that i cosponsored, that i vote for can be better, and i think it will be better after we have a chance to talk to our house conference. maybe like the conference used to be. it is time we got back to the normal way of doing business. but the underlying approach, this key significant change that the bill that the senate passed yesterday brings to the veterans is more options and more opportunities. and particularly our younger veterans, mr. president. i want to see more choices. they want to have more information. when senator stabenow and i sponsored last year, and actually when we initially put
the bill forward in early 2013, the excellence in mental health act, the iraq and afghanistan veterans were among our greatest supporters along with law enforcement, along with the mental health community for an act that they thought had the potential to provide more options for treatment, more places to go, more ways to get in that case the mental health treatment and access that you'd like to have that worked with family, that worked with jobs. these are young veterans who have left the military but still have lots of obligations that they want to and need to and should be trying to fulfill to themselves, their family, the work they have chosen to do, and the assistance we can give them with more options is important. but we're seeing in this bill an opportunity for all veterans to have more options if the veterans administration fails to meet their needs in an
appropriate way, and for many veterans to have options if they just simply don't live near a veterans facility. that 40-mile standard, that standard where if you're farther away that an hour or so, even in any way you measure traffic and time from a veterans facility, you would permanently have the ability to get your care as a veteran at any facility that accepts medicare patients, at that medicare rate. that would be the reimbursement rate for the government and the v.a. to pay. and for veterans even if you live next door to a v.a. hospital, if that hospital couldn't see you within the time that the law will ultimately decide is the critical time -- and, by the way, for some occasions the critical time is right now. a heart attack, a veteran contemplating suicide, there is no waiting period that's acceptable for either of those or anything like that.
but for routine medical care, an acceptable waiting period would be determined. we've been talking about 14 days. if you can't be seen in 14 days, you get the card that says you can go wherever you want to go. i hope that's the way this final bill works out, so that veterans have lots of options. i think the veterans administration is going to be better if they have to compete. and i've thought that for a long time. and i was at the truman veterans facility as i stand here at one of the desks that harry truman used when he was in the senate. his name is carved at the desk door. my good long time friend dewey ream who advised for on these vet issues, the head of the legislative issues in our state, we were meeting with the people that run that hospital and dewey ream said senator blunt has been
saying for at least ten years we need to have more options for veterans. and i'm here today saying i think he's been right in that discussion, even though our defenders and advocates of the veterans hospitals and the veterans system wanting to make it better have been slow to embrace the idea of more options for veterans. but they're there now and the congress is there now. and this system will be better because veterans will have more choices. and there are some things, mr. president, that the veterans administration clearly, if they're not better than anybody else at those things, we need to ask why. injuries that would be the result of i.e.d.'s, explosive attacks, they should be better at dealing with those eye injuries and loss of limb and rehabilitation than anybody else in america. they should be better at post traumatic stress than anybody else in america, dealing with that. but there's no particular reason that they're going to be better
at dealing with cancer or dealing with the heart problem, or dealing with a lung issue. there is no reason to believe that at all. and this is a time to really rethink what's best not for the veterans administration, but what's best for the veterans. our goal here should be what's the best thing for the veteran, not what's the best thing for the veterans administration. and we've all seen the list, and too many missouri facilities are too high on that list of waiting too long to get service. we've all seen those lists. we've all heard the stories of supervisors at one facility after another -- and i'm sure not every facility telling the people they supervise here's how we're going to manage the people that want to be here so that it appears we're doing a better job than we're doing. we've got enough of that. enough appearing to be doing a better job than we're doing. now is when we need to insist that that better job be done.
and i think we took a big step in that direction yesterday. i look forward to this bill improving as the house and senate work together now to bring their two bills to a final vote to go on the president's desk to be signed into law to change the way we deal with veterans. and while i'm on the floor, mr. president, i want to mention just a couple of other things. more letters we continue to get about what happens, the unintended consequences when government thinks it can better manage people's health care than they can themselves. i'm going to give three examples here today that have come in in just the last few days. brandon from saint james, missouri said -- and this is right out of his letter -- "i purchased a separate health insurance policy for my college-aged son because it was cheaper than continuing to carry a family policy. it was a good policy with a decent deductible through
bluecross blueshield. we received a notice that his insurance was going to be canceled. this was alarming to us and just plain wrong. the goal of obamacare was supposed to be to get more people insured instead of doing the opposite. it was canceling his insurance." then brandon goes on to say, then we got another notice to say the president decided to let these policies last another year. brandon says now he's concerned about what happens, as many people are, at the end of that year. the more we postpone, the more we delay, the more we say the law doesn't mean what the law says, the more confused, of course, people are. but when you've got a bad law, postponing and delaying it has some merit. jerry from jefferson city says he has a plan with really good benefits. according to jerry, under the president's health care plan, his plan will now in the future be subject to an additional tax because he was fortunate enough to have a really good plan. something else you wouldn't have
thought you would have done if you're trying to get people to have insurance they want and hopefully as good insurance as they can have. the third example, mr. president, earl is from palmira. he says he's a senior citizen and found his longtime preferred doctor is no longer in the network. so his co-pay to see the doctor that he has always seen went from $20 a visit to $45 a visit. so much for the pledge that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it. or if you like your doctor, you can keep it. i'd hoped that we could find a way to rally around the health care challenge for everybody, like we figured out a way to rally around the health care challenge for veterans. we need a system that doesn't create all kinds of unintended consequences but just makes it easier for people to have access to the insurance they want, not the insurance the government
says they should have. and i would yield the floor. i see my colleagues are joining me, and i'd yield the floor, mr. president. ms. collins: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maine. ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to honor a great american. president george herbert walker bush, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. as i reflect upon his remarkable life, i am amazed that he has managed to pack so many accomplishments into just 90 short years. in fact, mr. president, today president bush will mark this milestone by doing what he has done on other birthdays so many times. he will jump out of an airplane.
or, as barbara bush once put it, he will jump out of a perfectly good airplane. president bush has spent every summer of his life except during the war years at the family home in kennebunkport, maine. a few years ago his neighbors in kennebunkport came together to acquire a navy ship's anchor in his honor. it is a fitting tribute for president bush so often describes walker's point in maine as his anchor to the windward. it is fitting in another way as the navy aviator in world war ii, as a member of congress, as u.n. ambassador, as an envoy to china, as director of the
c.i.a., as vice president, and as president, george bush embodies the values that are the anchor of american society. courage, duty, honor, and compassion define our nation and his life. i'm sure that it is a great joy for him to share this special day with his first lady barbara bush, who also recently celebrated a birthday and who has done so much to promote family literacy in this country. last night, mr. president, our senate colleagues unanimously passed a resolution that i introduced with dozens of our
colleagues, including maine senator angus king, the two senators from texas, and our two leaders, wishing both president and mrs. bush the happiest of birthdays and honoring them. the love within this extraordinary family anchors their commitment to one another, to their community, to their two home states, and to their nation. mr. president, another great president, abraham lincoln, spoke a great many eternal truths that still inspire us today. nothing he said was ever truer than this: "it's not the years in your life that count. it's the life in your years." president george h.w. bush has
filled his years with a lifetime of service and contributions marked by integrity and humility. i wish him and his family many, many more years of celebration. and i thank him for his extraordinary service and dedication to the country he loves so much. thank you, mr. president. mr. wyden: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: mr. president, the senate last night passed the intelligence authorization bill, and it contains very important provisions relating to whistle-blowers. and while senator collins is on the floor, i want to commend her
for her extraordinary work on this. she has been at this for years, and it is a pleasure to be able to team up with her in this effort. and i think it's fair to say both of us are very appreciative of the work done by our chair, senator feinstein, who did so much to make this possible. and, mr. president, i'm going to be very brief. senator harkin, chairman harkin has some important remarks to make this morning. he graciously allowed me to go ahead, and just want to reflect a little bit on where we are with respect to whistle-blowers and the ability of intelligence agency employees to speak out on matters that do not affect national security but are important to the debate about how to ensure that our country resolutely fights terror and protects the public's right to know.
now, i think it's fair to say -- and i make this judgment on the basis of having been on the intelligence committee for 13 years now -- that the very important and worthwhile efforts to protect national security after the terrorists murdered more than 3,000 of our people on 9/11, those important efforts to protect our people from terror were also accompanied by a lot of overreaching by the intelligence leadership. in recent years, i think it's fair to say reformers have made some real progress in our efforts to address that overreach, and now with the patriot act and other measures coming before us and the country really understanding what's at stake, i think it's going to be possible to make additional progress. the reason i came to the floor
today to discuss whistle-blowers and the ability of intelligence employees to speak out is a lot of the progress that we have seen recently would not have happened without whistle-blowers and without some of the intelligence agency employees who are willing to risk their very career to draw attention to real and serious problems, and i also want to make note of the fact that there were journalists, journalists who worked hard to report the facts responsibly and ensure and inform public debate that is so essential to our democracy. now, here's why the whistle-blower issue is so important. there are existing laws and regulations that say that employees of american intelligence agencies were concerned about possible misconduct like waste and fraud and illegal activity are allowed to report that.
and these laws and regulations lay out channels for doing it. now, the reality is that these principles and the idea is that if there is misconduct, you report it to one of these entities, the oversight entity would have some opportunity to do something about it. now, unfortunately, reporting misconduct by your colleagues or by your agency doesn't always work out so well, and that's why rocking the boat and reporting misconduct can sometimes be hazardous for an individual's career. and if government employee thinks about biological the whistle -- blowing the whistle on possible misconduct, we can see that their survivor or someone in their mccain of command is condoning or participating in that misconduct, the employee is rightly going to be concerned
about possible retaliation, won't get that promotion and might not even be able to retain their security clearance. so title six of this year's intelligence authorization act strengthens the ability of those whistle-blowers to come forward. it prohibits retaliation against intelligence whistle-blowers who report misconduct using approved channels and it includes disclosures to the congress or to an inspector general. it requires the executive branch to establish an appeals process for whistle-blowers who have their security clearance unjustifiably revoked. establishing these protections in statute, in statute in my view is an important advance forward. so we're making some progress there with respect to whistle-blowers, but we're not doing so well with respect to making sure that we're
protecting the abilities of our employees in the intelligence field to speak out. now, recently the head of national intelligence issued a new policy directive regarding agency employees' contact with the media, and i will tell you, mr. president, i am troubled by how sweeping in nature this is. at the outset, this is supposed to prevent disclosures of genuinely sensitive information. that's obviously an important goal, but it's also important to make sure that as you carry that provision out, you don't keep employees, for example, from being able to talk about nonclassified matters. now, the new policy makes it clear that intelligence agency employees can be punished for having contact with the media
about intelligence-related information. make no mistake about it, mr. president, that is so broad that it could cover unclassified information. it really doesn't lay out any limits on this extraordinarily broad term that i have described. for example, is an employee's opinion about the scope of the n.s.a.'s domestic surveillance activities, intelligence related information are public -- or publicly available assessments about developments in syria or the ukraine intelligence related? this new directive doesn't say that, but it certainly points in that direction. now, it becomes even more problematic if you read further down into this new policy and review the definition of the word media. it includes any person or entity engaged in the collection, production or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security which includes
print, broadcast, film and the internet. this is extraordinarily broad. it goes well beyond professional news gatherers to include anyone who uses the internet, the internet to disseminate any information at all relating to national security topics. so if you're an employee of an intelligence agency and if you have a family member who likes to post or retreat articles about national security, suddenly having a conversation with that family member about important issues like n.s.a. surveillance or the war in afghanistan could lead to you getting punished for having unauthorized contact with the media, which this directive says, and i quote, will be handled in the same manner as a security violation, regardless, mr. president, of whether or not any classified information is disclosed. so i'm willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt in that some of the authors of this policy didn't intend to have
this happen. and i know that trying to make definitions of who is and isn't a member of the media is going to be a challenge with these new media technologies. but that doesn't remove the fact that this policy is too broad, it's too sweeping. it incorporates too much of what we want in montana and oregon, which is to make sure that our people can talk about the policy issues that afford them the information so they can cast a ballot. and my hope is that we can get this corrected because i think this is going to have a chilling effect on intelligence professionals who simply want to talk about the unclassified matters on important national security issues like how to reform domestic surveillance or whether or not our country should go to war. so, mr. president, in closing, i think my colleague -- thank my
colleague from iowa on this. we have made progress. back in 2012, there was an overall broad antileaks bill which was reported by the intelligence committee. it came out of the committee on a 14-1 basis. i was the opposing vote. at that time, mr. president, i knew it was a flawed policy, but i didn't even know how flawed it was because we weren't able at the time to talk to outside parties. when it was ready for the floor, the country and journalists and citizens saw how sweeping it is, saw how flawed it was, the damage it would have done to again discussing nonpalacified matters, and we got it corrected. but suffice it to say, we are going to have a host of challenges in the years ahead, and while we have one victory, like against that overall broad antileaks policy when we were able to derail what would have been the biggest invasion of
privacy in our country's history, the total information awareness program which was really derailed because a young person in our office found a memo that demonstrated just how sweeping it was. while we have made progress, we have a lot to do. we're in better shape this morning because of the passage of that intelligence authorization bill and the additional measure of protections for whistle-blowers and senator collins and the chair of the committee, senator feinstein deserve enormous credit, but make no mistake about it, we have a lot of work to do and certainly that new media policy that has come from the director of national intelligence that is so broad, so broad that it could really make it difficult to talk about unclassified matters on the internet, that is just one example of the kind of issue we're going to have to zero in on in the days ahead.
and i also note that our next speaker, chairman harkin, has been a great advocate on these kinds of issues as well, and i thank him for his courtesy so i could go ahead, and i yield the floor. mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: mr. president, today, june 12, 2014, is a day
set aside by the international labor organization to bring attention to the tragic predicament of millions of children across the globe who continue to be trapped in forced and abusive labor, often in extremely hazardous conditions. so today is the world day against child labor. it's a day set aside every year globally for people to take a look at what's happening to kids around the globe who are forced into very abusive and exploitive labor conditions. i think we obviously should think about these children more than one day here. we should think about them every day. in my travels, i have seen the scourge of forced and abusive child labor firsthand, and previously here on the floor going back for almost 20 years, i have spoken about how shocked i was to see the deplorable conditions under which some of these kids are forced to work. i have witnessed these
personally. and every place from south asia to latin america to africa. these are, as a matter of fact, pictures that i took myself. this was in a rug-making place in katmandu, nepal. we were told that there were no children being forced into this kind of labor, but under cover of darkness on a sunday night, it was probably after about 8:00 in the evening, we were able to make entry into one of these backal -- back alley places and this is what we came across. young girls and boys, some as young as 8 years of age, working at these looms. mind you, this is 8:00 p.m. on a sunday night. they lived in barracks. they were housed kind of stacked up in barracks so they could not leave, they could not go anywhere, they could not see their families. here is just another shot of
some other older girls. these are young teenaged girls working at the same place. i didn't take that picture because this is me in the picture, so it was taken my rosemary gutierrez, my staff person. so i witnessed this firsthand, even though we were told no such thing existed, we found that it did exist. this witnessing that i have done in all these places has also been a call to action. a call to become a voice for these kids. since 1992, when i first introduced the first bill to ban all products made by abusive and exploitative child labor, i was leading this effort in the senate. since the introduction of that bill in 1992, we have made progress in raising awareness about abusive and exploitative child labor, and we have significantly reduced the number of kids working in these hazardous conditions. now, this effort received a big boost through the international labor organization's convention
182, a treaty calling for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor. in june of 1999, president clinton traveled to geneva to support and sign this treaty. i was proud to accompany him on this historic trip, when for the first time in history the world spoke with one voice in opposition to abusive and exploitative child labor. countries from across the political, economic and religious spectrum came together to proclaim unequivocally that abusive and exploitative child labor is a practice that will not be tolerated and must be abolished. after returning from that trip with president clinton, i worked with senator jesse helms here in the senate. he was then chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, to bring this treaty before the full senate. just five months later, the senate unanimously gave its advice and consent in a 96-0 vote to ratify this treaty. and, you know, i have to -- i
digress here a minute, mr. president. we have another treaty that hopefully will be bringing -- that we hopefully will be bringing up soon, and that is -- that is the u.s. treaty on the rights of people with disabilities, the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. there has been a lot of talk about sovereignty and we can't give up our sovereignty, and that's just a red herring. i would say that many senators who are here today voted on that 96-0 vote. nobody ever raised an issue about sovereignty. and have we lost our sovereignty? since we joined that treaty? not one speck. so why is it that we're so concerned about some sovereignty issue when it deals with people with disabilities? but we weren't in 1999 when we voted unanimously, republicans and democrats, when it dealt with exploitative child labor? so i just want to make that
point for people to consider when we're hopefully bringing up the convention on the rights of people with disabilities sometime this summer. but with that historic treaty, the global community rejected the argument that abusive and exploitative child labor is a practice that can be excused by a country's poor economic circumstances. in pushing the united states to lead by example, i worked with the clinton administration to issue executive order 13126, the prohibition of acquisition of products produced by forced and indentured child labor. this executive order in effect since 1999 prohibits the u.s. government from procuring items made by forced or indentured child labor. now, i have always believed that trade agreements on the right terms promise many broadly shared benefits and opportunities for all. that's why i have worked hard to improve the labor provisions in.
combating particularly on combating abusive and exploit active child labor. thereafter, in 2000, during consider of the trade and development act, i again worked with senator helms to amend the generalized system of preferences, the g.s.p., so that efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor would be included as a criterion and condition for receiving trade benefits. that's in the law. additionally, that amendment also mandated that the department of labor's international labor affairs bureau, called ilab -- i-l-a-b -- the u.s. government's foremost authority on child labor must produce an annual report in which our government formerly monitors and notes the effort or lack of effort of 144 territories receiving trade benefits to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. this amendment enshrined into law -- something i had been
working on for years through the previous department of labor reports. i intended for this report to bring countries to account, to shine a spotlight on their need to reform their national laws and put in place safety nets for those trapped in the worst forms of child labor. now, the aim is not punitive but, rather, to jump-start individual and collective acti action. i wanted this report to be equal in stature and in impact to the state department's human rights report, and we are well on our way to achieving that status. on the technical assistance si side, ilab funded 269 technical cooperation projects to combat sploexploitive child labor in or 90 countries around the world. think about that, we have funded 269 techal cooperation projects to combat child labor in over 90 countries around the world.
as a result of these efforts, about 1.7 million children have been rescued from child labor through the provisions of education and training services and livelihood support for their families. let's be clear, whether we're talking about trafficking of children for sexual exploitation or for purposes of forced labor and dangerous, abusive circumstances, the outcome is the same -- these children are robbed of their childhood, robbed of their education, robbed of their future. and in the countries where this takes place, the cycle of poverty is perpetuated. a nation can neither achieve nor sustain prosperity on the backs of its children, and the global -- children. in the global economy, the exploitation of children must not be tolerated for any circumstances or for any reason. when children are exploited for the economic gains of others, everybody loses. the children lose, their families lose, their country loses, the world loses. when even one child is exploit exploited, every one of us is diminished.
that's why in 2001, after reading investigative reports by knight ridder sploing the magnitude of forced child labor on koh farms in west africa, i resolved to do what we could to he happened this tragic exploitation of children. today with congressman elliott engel of new york, we engaged the coffee companies in intense negotiations. the result is what has been called as the harkin-engel protocol, a public-private partnership to tackle the problem of child labor on nearly 1.5 million small cocoa farms in four african countries beginning with can that and the ivory coast -- beginning with ghana and the identifiry coast. you might ask, why are we so interested in that? think about that, 60% of all the chocolate consumed in america -- think about your hershey bars, the chocolates you eat, the cocoa that you make, the chocolate that goes into --
whatever it is, 60% comes from the ivory coast and ghana. how many people, when they bite into that chocolate or eat that chocolate bar or that piece of chocolate cake or drink some cocoa in the morning, how many people know that they got that through abusive child labor? kids, kids 10 years of age with knife cuts, machetes taking off their fingers, not being allowed to go to school, forced to work in terrible conditions in these cocoa fields just so that we can have chocolate to eat. is that something that we're proud of? so we had this protocol to begin the process of getting them out of this kind of work. now, again, we've made some progress. the joint efforts of the state failed to rise to a level that matched the magnitude of the challenge.
an independent study by tulane university in 2010 concluded that despite the concerted efforts of the various stakeholders -- one of them being us -- it is evident that much more work is required and a majority of children exposed to the worst forms of child labor remains unreached by the remediation activities currently in place. that was the report by tulane university. the study noted that over a million children were trapped in exploitive sector in the cocoa sector of just those two countries. so i accelerated efforts to make better progress. so again in september of 2010, we worked again with ilab to develop a framework of action that set the goal of reducing the worst forms of child labor in the cocoa industry in those two countries, ivory coast and ghana, to reduce it by 20% in 2020. the framework again is a cooperative effort by the governments of the united states, ivory coast, ghana, the
international labor organization, the cocoa industry and civil society groups, including labor unions. to initially fund this effort, the united states government agreed to provide $10 million in new funding. in turn, the international chocolate and cocoa industry has committed an additional $10 million towards this endeavor. so this is truly an historic step with the key stakeholders, the national governments, the industry, the department of labor, working as partners to intensify efforts to combat the scourge -- this scourge -- of child labor in the cocoa fields. together, key stakeholders have undertaken a sustainable remediation process that includes better schooling and training opportunities for these young people, measures to improve occupational safety and health related to cocoa production, and livelihood services to vulnerable families. additionally, the framework creates true accountability. it establishes benchmarks with
audits, puts in place a credible transparent monitoring system in 100% of cocoa growing regions in the two countries. the stakeholders also produce an annual report documenting the programs in the field. so i am proud of i this lab's determined work in reducing the worst forms of child labor. we should all be proud of these efforts. we and our partners around the world have made significant progress in the monumental task of eliminating this scourge of child labor. since the year 2000, we have reduced the number of child laborers from 246 million to 1 168 million, a reduction of almost one-third, or 78 million. and i especially want to thank former secretary of labor, hilda solis, for her great leadership during this period of time when we were hammering out these agreements and these frameworks, and to thank the present secretary of labor, tom perez, for his continued -- his
continued support and leadership of ilab. i might also mention peril peer, miss carol peer, who heads the international labor bureau, for her dynamic leadership in working to reduce these worst forms of child labor, not just in ghana and the ivory coast but around the world. i might also add, mr. president, that we meet annually -- actually sometimes semiannually, with the governments of ghana and the ivory coast and also with the cocoa industry. and i must say that i'm very encouraged by both of these countries. i might especially point out ghana. ghana has done remarkably well. they are moving in the right direction in reducing this child labor and providing support for education. the ivory coast has now come along. cote d'ivoire is now coming along really well. they've had some problems in the past theevment had som.
neef hathey've had some civil wd problems in their economy. but now the first lady of the ivory coast has really taken on this goal of reducing child labor in the ivory coast. so both countries, i compliment them for their work with us and with the cocoa industry and i compliment the cocoa industry, too. they are working as true partners to try to meet that goal of reducing this child labor by 70% by the year 2020. and then i want to thank tulane university for their investigations, for their monitoring, i should say more than investigations, for their monitoring of this process and getting us the true picture of what is happening. so i think all of this demonstrates that when we work together in a bipartisan way, we can confront some of the worst human rights abuses that exist. on the issue of forced and abusive child labor, we resolve to act with regard to party affiliation and with high regard
for the interest of children trapped in abusive labor. so, mr. president, as we all are aware, i'm retiring from the senate next year but i assure thaw i'm not retiring from thi this -- i assure you that i'm not retiring from this fight. i will find ways to continue to be involved to help make sure we reach those goals of reducing child labor by 70% by 2020 in both those countries and to use that also as a springboard for further kinds of cooperative efforts with governments around the world to get kids out of this terrible scourge of child labor. so again, we have to ensure that ilab has resources to continue effective u.s. efforts. i look forward to working with my colleagues later this year to finally authorize ilab so that it has the tools it needs to get children out of these abusive circumstances and into schools, where they can gain the knowledge and skills they need not only to build a decent life
for themselves but to break the cycle of poverty in the countries in which they live. it's just been a vicious cycle, a vicious cycle, of poverty and using exploitation -- exploiting these kids. they don't learn, they don't go to school, they become impoverished and the cycle just continues and continues. we have to break that and we have seen in countries where they break that cycle, they then enter a virch wit a virtuous cye kids go to school, they learn, they become educated. they are then able to perform jobs with higher skills. they then bring in people to do some of these jobs that are paid a decent wage. they're adults. and we find that the whole country progresses because it's a virtuous cycle, not a vicious cycle. so again, on this day, june 12, which is -- which is, as i said, is called the world day against child labor, it's good for us to pause and think about our own
policies in this country and what we're doing to help the rest of the world. not in a punitive way of hitting someone over the head, but how do we work together to solve almost what people thought was an intractable problem of -- of kids not going to school, being forced into terrible labor conditions. and time for us to think about how we work with other countries to help solve this problem. if you read the history of the united states, you know that we had terrible child labor problems in this country back in the 19th century and the 1800's. you can see all kinds of pictures of kids working in our mills, working on road crews. again, when we finally stopped it, when we finally -- and it's amazing, the arguments we heard then against stopping child labor are some of the same arguments we hear now about stopping it in other countries. but once we stopped it, our nation became better. we entered a virtuous cycle of
educating our youth, getting them into schools. that led to higher incomes, led to a better gross national product, enabled us to become "the" most powerful, well-educated country in the history of the world. there are so many countries that would like to do that. they need our help. they need our support. through our department of labor and the international labor affairs bureau, we can give them that kind of help and that kind of support so that other countries can finally put aside, end this scourge of exploitative child labor. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
har mr. president, i ask -- mr. harkin: mr. president, i ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i ask unanimous consent elisebeth larson, casey brendino and jackson o'brien, interns in my office be granted privileges of the floor for today's session. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i thank the chair and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. mccain: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be suspended and that senator graham be allowed to engage in colloquy with me until such time as we may consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i thank you. i come to the floor this morning with great sorrow and great concern and an even deep alarm
about the events that are transpiring rapidly in iraq. isis, the most extreme islamist organization, radical terrorist organization, now controls at least one-third of iraqi territory and is rapidly gaining more. the areas of fallujah, mosul, tikrit on the outside of samarra, with these victories, isis controls ter troer from the syrian turkish frontier in the north to the euphrates river to the iraqi city of fallujah, 40 miles west of baghdad and of course hourly they are experiencing greater gains while the iraqi military and police seem to be dissolving before our very eyes. isis social media published pictures of their fighters
demolishing the sand berm which hitherto marked the border between syria and iraq, an interesting symbolic gesture. they also released -- isis released footage of large numbers of weapons and armored military vehicles being received by members in eastern syria, confirming fears that the looted weapons would fuel the insurgency on both sides, both syria and iraq. sources in the city -- the syrian city of asaka confirmed that large numbers of trucks, convoys of trucks carrying weapons arrived late on tuesday and were met by senior isis figure omal el-katani. the architect of the surge said -- quote -- "this organization, speaking of isis, has grown into a military organization that is no longer conducting terrorist activities exclusively but is conducting conventional military
operations. they are attacking iraqi military positions with company and battalion-sized formations, and in the face of that the iraqi security forces have not been able to stand up to it." the most frightening part is that isis strength will only grow after today. we use the cash reserves from mosul's banks, the military seized from police bases and the release of 3,000 fighters from local jails to bolster its military and financial capacity. isis has now become the richest terror group ever, looted $500 million -- excuse me. $492 million from mosul's central bank. the governor confirmed kurdish television reports that isis militants had stolen millions from numerous banks across mosul. most disturbing is the iraqi security forces are collapsing, kurdish and shia mall asias are -- militias are to some degree filling the vacuum.
the story goes on and on, including the fact that the international organization for migration says that as many as 500,000 citizens have fled mosul reports of tens of thousands of citizens forced from their homes and other areas as fighting escalates across northern and central iraq. and then the question arises, could all this have been avoided, and the answer is absolutely yes, absolutely yes. mr. president, i think it's probably the height of ego to quote one's self, but i think it's important to have again on the record what i said during this whole process when the president of the united states' only goal was to leave iraq and afghanistan, and he's about to make the same mistake in afghanistan that he did in iraq. and those of us who knew iraq, who knew al qaeda, who knew how vital and how fragile the iraqi government is, the day that the president announced that all
u.s. troops would leave iraq by the end of the year, i said today marks a harmful and sad setback for the united states and the world. i respectfully disagree with the president. this decision will be viewed as a strategic victory for our enemies in the middle east. on october 21, 2011, nearly 4,500 americans have given their lives for our mission in iraq, countless more have been wounded. i fear that all of the gains made possible by these brave americans in iraq at such great costs are now at risk. november 15, 2011, the senate armed services committee, ambassador crocker said it was a mistake. i will not give the whole statement, but i said we cannot avoid the fact that iraq's progress is now at greater risk than at any times since the dark days before the surge and that it did not have to be this way. finally on december 14, the day that the president in triumph visited fort bragg to mark the end, in his view, the end of the iraq war, i said over 4,000
brave young americans gave their lives in this conflict. i pray that their sacrifice is not in vain. unfortunately, it is clear that this decision of a complete pullout of the united states troops from iraq was dictated by politics and not our national security interests. i believe that history will judge this president's leadership with the scorn and disdain that it deserves. and of course we now know that the united states rebuffed, according to the "new york times" today, michael gordon and eric schmidt, the united states refused malaki's request to strike against the militants, strategic disaster assisted by withdrawal from iraq, iraq's terrorists are becoming full-blown army. one of the smartest guys that i have encountered is a guy names dexter filkins with great
experience. he has an article in "the new yorker." i quote extremist iraq rise america's legacy, and he says when the americans invaded in march of 2003, they destroyed the iraqi state. he goes on to say -- said the negotiations between obama and malaki fell apart in no small measure because of a lack of engagement by the white house. today many iraqis, including some close to malaki, say that a small force of american soldiers working in noncombat roles would have provided a crucial stabilizing factor that is now missing from iraq. samia el-askari, a malaki confident, told me from my article, and i quote, if you had a few hundred here, not a few thousand, they would be cooperating with you and they would become your partners. president obama wanted the americans to come home, and malaki didn't particularly want them to stay. the trouble is as the events of
this week show, what the americans left behind was an iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own. what we built is now coming apart. this is the real legacy of america's war in iraq. and if i sound angry, it's because i am angry. because during this whole period of time, for example, "the washington post" in an editorial this morning called the -- quote -- iraqi success. i quote dennis mcdonough, then-deputy national security advisor and now white house chief of staff told reporters in 2011 that mr. obama -- quote -- said that we're looking for is an iraq that's secure, stable and self-reliant and that's exactly what we got here, so there's no question that this is a success. you know, sometime we're going to hold people responsible for their policies as well as their words.
to declare that a conflict is overdoes not mean that it necessarily is over. a great piece by daniel henninger this morning in "the wall street journal" entitled "while obama fiddles." meanwhile, iraq may be transforming into, a, a second syria or b, a restored kalafate. past at some point the world's wildfires are going to consume the obama legacy and leave his successor a nightmare. mr. president, what needs to be done now? well, every hour the options become fewer and fewer as isis, the most radical islamist terrorist group alive, sweeps across iraq and now, according to the latest reports, are even threatening baghdad that there are signs of further
deterioration of the iraqi military. what do we need to do now? obviously, the first thing i think we need to do is call together the people that succeeded in iraq, those that have been retired, and get together that group and place them in responsibility positions so that they can develop a policy to reverse this tide of radical islamic extremism which directly threatens the security of the united states of america, and it's time that the president got a new national security team. it's time that he got a group of people together that know what it is to succeed in conflict. and i would say the leader of that would be general petraeus. i would say that general maddes is one. i would say that general keane is another one. i would say that bob kagan is another one. there is a group of people, along with myself and the senator from south carolina, that predicted every single one of these events because of an american lack of reliability and
american weakness, and the president of the united states declaring that conflicts are at an end when they are not. an exit from iraq and now an exit from afghanistan without a strategy and without victory. so drastic measures need to be taken. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff is one who has gone along with this policy for a long time. we need a new chairman. we need a new national security advisor. we need a new team. we need a new team that knows what america's national security interests are and are more interested in national security than they are in politics. so, mr. president, i -- i come to this floor today with great sadness because all of this could have been avoided. there is no inevitability about what is taking place in iraq
today. and iraq is a faraway place, but ask any intelligence leader in this country, and that leader will tell you that this poses a takeover of iraq in the iraq-syria area which is now the largest concentration of al qaeda in history, is a direct threat to the united states of america. our director of national intelligence, general clapper, has said in open testimony that this concentration of al qaeda-oriented and al qaeda-affiliated groups will be planning attacks on the united states of america. and the saddest part about all of this to me is the fact that 4,400 young americans lost their lives, thousands lost their limbs, thousands are scarred for life because of the experience
that they had serving in iraq. and they had it won. in the words of general petraeus , we won the war and lost the peace, and that is a direct responsibility of the president of the united states who is commander in chief. but i grieve for those families who lost their loved ones, who fought so bravely and made such sacrifices, and to see all of that, all of that success where the surge succeeded thanks to one of the finest generals in history, general david petraeus. we see this all now torn asunder because of a policy of withdrawal without victory. and when those withdrawals and that policy was being orchestrated, the senator from south carolina and i and others stood up and said please don't
do this. please leave a small force behind in iraq. we are begging now please leave a small force behind in afghanistan. the afghans have no air capabilities. the taliban will come back and all of the sacrifice in afghanistan will be made in vain. so at least take immediate action to try to break the advance of isis across iraq today, but also revisit the decision to completely withdraw from afghanistan because the taliban is still alive and well, because the president of the united states declares a conflict overdoes not mean in the eyes of the enemy that it's over. conflicts end when the enemy is defeated. the iraq war did not end because
the forces against iraq were -- and within iraq were still undefeated. the conflict in afghanistan will not be over two years from now when the final 2017 -- when the final american is scheduled to leave afghanistan. please learn the lessons. i say to the president of the united states get a new national security team in place. you have been ill served by the national security team and the decisions that you have in place now and the decisions that you make, and have that new national security team come up with a strategy, a strategy to do whatever we can to prevent this direct threat to the national security of this nation, the security of this nation. so, mr. president, of all the visits that the senator -- the former senator from kentucky, joe lieberman and lindsey graham
and i made every fourth of july, two or three times a year traveling the country and having been in the company of not just great leaders like general petraeus and ambassador crocker, but the young men, the privates, corporals, especially the sergeants. these brave, brave men and women who were serving, who were willing to sacrifice on behalf of somebody else's freedom, and they pleefd they won. the surge succeeded. any military expert will tell you the surge succeeded. but it was won at great sacrifice. among the cities, the black flags of al qaeda fly over the city of fallujah today. 96 brave soldiers and marines were killed, 600 wounded. what do we tell their families? what do we tell their families? what do we tell their mothers? so it's not too late. america is still the most
powerful nation on earth. we still have the finest and strongest military ever. we have the finest young men and women who are serving in it ever. it is not too late. but we've got to have a dramatic reversal of course before the situation gets to the point where, as the director of national intelligence has stated, that this will be an area where attacks on the united states of america will be orchestrated. mr. president, i yield the flo floor. mr. mccain: mr. president, before i yield the floor, i ask that certain articles be inserted as part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: and, mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. graham: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from georgia. south carolina, forgive me. mr. graham graham: south caroli. but i like georgia, a very nice state. come from georgia to south carolina and spend money. and you're welcome to come, too. the presiding officer: i will do that. the senate is in a quorum call. mr. graham: i would ask unanimous consent to terminate the quorum call. the presiding officer: sir, without objection. mr. graham: and could i be recognized for 10 or 15 minutes to speak as if in morning
business or a colloquy. the presiding officer: senator, we have an order to go to executive session at 11:30. mr. graham: can i speak until 11:30. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized, without objection. mr. graham: thank you, and i'll speak quickly. senator mccain was on the floor. i'm sorry i missed him. i was in a briefing. to the american people, the situation in iraq is dire. syria has become a launching pad for attacks against the iraqi people. isis -- you don't know who these people are, but you're going to get to know them -- they're islamic jihadists based in syria and iraq. they're an army, they're not a bunch of hoodlums. they have a very specific game plan. they want to create an islamic cacalafat, basically dominate iraq, syria, some want to go to lebanon to create an islamic state that would be ruled under the most extreme version of islamic law one could imagine. hell on earth for women.
not good for us. the end of modern thought in that part of the world. the people of iraq and syria are not by their nature radical islamists. the people that are beginning to win the day on the battlefield come from all over and they actual are radical islamists who would put the world in darkness if they could. and the next 9/11 is in the making as i speak. these people are using afghanistan -- excuse me, syria and now iraq as a training ground for international jihad. they're european jihadists, american jihadists over in syria as i speak. about two weeks ago, the largest truck bomb explosion by a suicide bomber in syria was by an american citizen, and i hate to say, there are more over there today. the question for the united states is, does it really matter if the isis dominates syria and
iraq or any part thereof? i think it does. i think it's a very bad scenario for us. i think it directly impacts our security here at home and it will throw the region into chaos. it's clear to me after the briefing, mr. president, there is no scenario by which the iraqi security forces can stop the advancement of this group toward baghdad. i don't think they go much beyond baghdad because you get into the shia areas of -- of iraq that would be one hell of a fight. but i do think they have successfully -- well, months yos fallen, takrik has fallen, fallujah has fallen. now they're marching to baghdad. they'll be successful. the military equipment they're giving to syria to help their cause there.
this is a very serious situation. i would urge president obama to go on national television and explain what's going on in iraq and syria and make a case to the american people why we should stay out or why we should do something. i think american air power is the only hope to change the battlefield equation in iraq. i know no american wants to send boots on the ground and i don't feel that that's a solution worthy of consideration at this point. but i have been told by our military commanders the iraqi army is in shambles and without some kind of intervention, baghdad is definitely in jeopardy and most of the sunni areas of iraq will be run by isis and they will join forces with those -- or their colleagues over in syria. and i worry about the king of jordan. i worry about lebanon being ne next. god knows, if we lose the king
of jordan, the last moderate voice in the mideast surrounding israel, what calamity that would be. i would end with this thought. i remember discussing iraq with president bush like it was yesterday. i went over on numerous occasions with senator mccain early on after the fall of baghdad and every trip it was worse. and i remember the bush administration telling us, these are just a few dead-enders. everything's fine. the media's hyping all the problems because they don't like president bush. the soldiers on the ground were telling us, i'm driving around every day, i don't know why i'm driving around but i'm getting my ass shot off. pardon my french here. without a purpose. and i remember sitting down with president bush, senator mccain and his administration, his te team, and we candidly told president bush, if you don't adjust your strategy, if you don't reinforce iraq, we're going to lose. and to his credit, he did. the surge actually worked.
we left iraq in a very good sp spot. the security forces had won the day, we had driven out al qaeda. politics was beginning to take over. violence had tremendously been reduced. the surge worked. our military did their job fighting alongside their iraqi counterparts. but the decision to withdraw from iraq created a crisis of confidence, capability crisis. and when there is a vacuum in the mideast, people go back to their corners and that's exactly what's happened in iraq. the lack of an american presence -- and there's what's so heartbreaking. 10,000 or 15,000 soldiers strategically placed, u.s. soldiers, would have held this together and politics would have taken over. but it's hard to do political agreement when you're subject to being killed by people on the other side. you need a certain level of security to advance society and that security has completely been lost in iraq.
and syria is a contagion for the entire region, mr. president. our indecision and indecisive actions in syria, which was bipartisan, by the way, there were plenty of republicans saying stay out of syria, it's none of our concern. what senator mccain and i have been worried about in syria for the last three or four years is that iran and russia were behind assad, that's not in our interests for the iranians to beat us in syria because it's very hard to get them to abandon their nuclear program if they think we're weak in syria and it's in our national security interests for syria not to become an islamic safe haven. about three years ago there were 500 foreign fighters. today there's 26,000. so to those republicans and democrats who said stay out of syria, don't use airstrikes or air power, i'm sad to say i think you were wrong. i think that syria has become an absolute breeding ground for
radical islamists and the next attack against our country could very well originate from people who are fighting in syria today. and i've never been more worried about another 9/11 than i am right now. so, mr. president, final thought -- if you're willing to adjust your policies, we will stand with you. if you're willing to sit down with your generals and get some good, sound military advice, we will stand with you because what happens in iraq and syria does does matter. i don't think we needs boots on the ground, i don't think that's an option worth consideration but if our military leaders say that we need to stop isis because it's in our national security interests the use of air power, count me in if that's what our generals say. i will stand with with you, mr. president, if you correct your policies, if you continue to be delusional about the world i will be your worst critic. with that i yield back. the presiding officer: i thank the distinguished senator from south carolina for yielding the floor. morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive
session to consider the following nomination which the clerk will report. the clerk: nomination, department of state. crystal nix-hines of california for the rank of ambassador, united nations educational, scientific and cultural organization. the presiding officer: under the previous order, there will be 30 minutes of debate on the nomination equally divided in the usual form. who yields time? if no one yields time, time will be charged equally to both sides.
mr. coats: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: mr. president, i rise to oppose the nomination of crystal nix-hines to be the u.s. ambassador to the united nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization, otherwise called unesco. and i wanted to speak on this nomination to once again express my firm opposition to the administration's stated intention to circumvent u.s.
law, law that was passed by this body, regarding funding of unesco, an intention repeated by ms. nicks hines -- nix-hines at her testimony last year. there's nothing personal in this foreign policy me relative to this individual. i have not met her, i'm sure she's a woman of good character, perhaps qualified for the job, but nevertheless, it's important i think that we understand before we take this vote what we're doing here, and why we shouldn't be doing it, and that ms. mix hines has been central -- ms. nix-hines has been central to advancing her nomination into confirmation to this organization. if confirmed, this nomination will result in the fact that the administration is sending a representative to an
organization that we do not fund and in which we have no vote. that's right, we will be sending a confirmed u.s. ambassador to an organization which we do not support and in which we have no vote. that contradiction can only mean that the administration is still attempting to change those circumstances by seeking waiver authority, and that is the reason why i'm speaking today and why i oppose this nomination. let me give a little history here. in late 2011, unesco offered membership to the palestinian authority. this was a consequence of the palestinian campaign to achieve recognition as a state by appealing unilaterally and directly to the united nations and its agencies. unesco's dispition to admit palestine as a full member has further dimmed prospects for a
negotiated peace in the middle east. my fear is that this step which the palestinians mistakenly regard as a success, will encourage them to press for membership in other u.n. bodies as well, achieving legitimacy through the u.n. that they don't deserve as a state and that they need to understand presents major obstacles to ever achieving some type of reconciliation between the israelis and the palestinians. this will harm israel, it will harm the palestinians' own interest, home the u.n. agencies involved and damage our own national interest. to prevent just this sort of unilateral maneuver by the palestinians, u.s. law -- it's in the law -- has long prohibited funding to any u.n. agency that admits palestine as a member. the purpose of this termination
and the will of congress regarding it was to discourage such reckless behavior by the u.n. and by the palestinians. let me repeat that. the harm that is done through this has caused us, brought us to the point where we passed a law signed by the president that said we will not support any agency that acknowledges and admits palestine as a recognized state. that is not our policy. it's a clear -- so funding unesco or even providing a waiver for that would be a clear violation of u.s. law. now, we have seen the administration try to work around congress in a number of ways, neglecting to check the law in terms of what they are required to do. we're currently in an embroiled situation here through this detainee release from guantanamo
of five of the top leaders of the taliban, a blatant violation of the law that exists on the books in terms of consultation with congress before this is done. nevertheless that's not what i'm here for today. that's another issue. our laws require the united states to cut off budget support to unesco and will do the same to other agencies that also circumvent the correct path to a negotiated settlement. i think that's good policy. when some administration officials spoke publicly soon after the unesco vote about finding a -- quote -- "work-around or seeking a waiver" i introduced legislation not to tolerate such alternatives and said i would not support a waiver. i repeated those efforts in subsequent state and foreign operations appropriations bills when the administration included appropriations for unesco in its budget request. and secretary kerry said in his testimony that they would be --
quote -- "seeking to change or repeal the law." in his comments on the subject, secretary kerry spoke about the value he saw in this u.n. agency. but said nothing about the value of discouraging palestinian efforts to circumvent negotiations and change its status at the u.n. before there's an agreed settlement. similarly, ms. nix-hines' statement for the foreign relations committee, she spoke forcefully about her views on unesco and its importance to u.s. interests. maybe that's true, maybe it's not true, but nevertheless she said nothing about how the palestinian end run at the united nations harmed our quest for a middle east settlement. she repeated the administration's intention to seek a waiver of existing law to resume contributions to unesco, declaring that -- and i quote her -- "we are not a country that turns tail when decisions do not go our way.
we are not a people who shrink from challenge." well, that's true, we're not. but in stating that, she has equated a principled stance on this important issue, a stance that she does not agree with, as an act of cowardice. it's an act of law. it's an act that was enacted by this body with the support from the house of representatives and signed by the president of the united states. so her statement makes no sense unless you come to the conclusion she was handed talking points, as other members of the administration have been handed and said go ahead and -- go down and say this if this question comes up. don't worry about the facts. now, i can understand why a nominee to unesco would want to restore u.s. funding to the organization. and thus restore the u.s. vote there. but to purposefully ignore or miscon view striew the
opposing -- misconstrue the opposing view, one stated in u.s. law and supported by this congress for 20 years and to imply such a view is cowardly, that's offensive. that's offensive to those members of us who have supported this law, who enacted this law, it's offensive to the president who signed this law, it's offensive to the american people who sent us here to pass laws and to enforce those laws as passed. and to call that action cowardly is something that's offensive as well. the laws that are designed to discourage u.n. bodies from admitting palestinian authority before a comprehensive settlement are essential if negotiations are to have any chance at all. far from being anachronistic as some connected with unesco are claiming, they are more current
and important now than ever. it's now that the palestinians are trying to change their status at the u.n. unilaterally and now we must use the available tools to prevent it. if we were to grant waiver authority to the administration as they have requested, the floodgates would open. the existence of waiver authority, not to mention the actual exercise of the waiver, would embolden the palestinians to make even greater unilateral efforts to achieve membership in u.n. bodies and the result would present repeated funding dilemmas for us and make a true negotiated peace that much more difficult to achieve. the nomination of a candidate for the unesco position at least gives me this opportunity to restate clearly and unambiguously once again that i remain firmly opposed to providing funds to unesco or any other u.n. agency that repeats this serious error and i hope my colleagues would understand this and support it also. thus i cannot support funding
unesco while palestinian -- while palestine is a member and nor will i support a waiver of existing restrictions and i don't think anyone else should, either, because it violates u.s. law. to repeat, this nomination means the administration wants to send a representative to an organization that we do not fund and in which we have no vote. that contradiction can only mean that the administration still wants to change those circumstances by seeking waiver authority, and therefore i will oppose this nomination and hope my colleagues will support the same. mr. president, with that i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. durbin: madam president? the presiding officer: the assistant democratic -- the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be success speaned. the presiding officer: without objection. dur i have seven unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate which have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent these requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. all sometime expired. the question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will call the roll. vote: